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Evaluating Offers: Legal Aspects Every Home Seller Should Know

Selling your home is a big deal! When you receive that first offer, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement. But hold on—there are important legal aspects to consider before jumping in and accepting an offer for your home. Understanding different offers, their terms, and what you’re responsible for will help ensure a smooth transaction.

The Two Basic Types of Offers

When you receive an offer on your home, it’s important to understand the different types so you can evaluate them effectively. Here’s a breakdown of two key distinctions: 

  • Written vs. Verbal Offers: A verbal offer might sound good in the moment, but it’s not worth the paper it’s NOT written on. Always insist on having a formal offer in writing to avoid any misunderstandings down the line.

  • Contingent vs. Non-Contingent Offers: Most offers have contingencies—that is, conditions that must be met for the sale to go through. Common ones are things like the buyer getting a mortgage or a satisfactory home inspection. Non-contingent offers are less risky for you, the seller, but buyers often prefer some protection.

Next Steps: Acceptance or Counteroffers

Offers often have a deadline—a date by which you have to say yes, no, or make a counteroffer. Be sure to read this carefully! Missing the deadline could mean losing out on a potential sale—or worse, finding yourself stuck with an offer you don’t like. 

The terms of an offer go beyond just the price tag. Carefully considering these factors will help you make a well-informed decision:

  • Price: It pays to do your homework! Consider getting an appraisal done before listing your house. That way, you’ll have a good idea of its fair market value when evaluating offers.

  • Contingencies: The most common contingencies include financing (the buyer getting approved for a mortgage), inspection, and appraisal. Think about how flexible you’re willing to be on these and how they might affect your timeline.

  • Earnest Money Deposit: This is a sum the buyer puts down to show they’re serious. Pay attention to the amount and what could happen to the money if the deal falls through due to various circumstances.

  • Timelines: When does the buyer want to close? Are there deadlines for things like the inspection or getting financing in place? Make sure these dates work for you and don’t cause any unexpected delays.

  • Additional Terms: Some buyers might ask you to pay for certain closing costs, make repairs, or even include furniture in the sale. Weigh these requests carefully – they can impact your bottom line.

Your Legal Risks and Responsibilities

Remember, when you accept an offer, you’re essentially signing a contract. Make sure you understand all the terms before you agree to anything. If you don’t meet your obligations, you could be sued for breach of contract.

Protect Your Interests with Boss Law

Selling a house is complicated—and there’s a lot at stake. It’s always best to consult with a real estate attorney before accepting any offer. An experienced attorney can help in several critical ways—they can explain the offer terms in plain English, negotiate on your behalf, and make sure you’re fulfilling your legal obligations.

The real estate attorneys at Boss Law are ready to be your trusted advisors throughout the home-selling process. We’ll help you understand your options and make informed decisions that protect you and your financial interests. Contact us at (727) 877-3188 for a consultation and let us put our expertise to work for you!

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